Businessman and Member of Parliament for Tati East Samson Moyo Guma, has successfully managed to place under Provisional Judicial Management his United Refineries Botswana Holdings (URB) – a cooking oil manufacturing plant in Francistown. Guma’s petition comes weeks after he was reported to being followed by the taxman. Guma is the Chairman of the company.
Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) was reported to be after Guma’s companies for failing to pay tax. Guma is unhappy that state institutions are being used to fight political wars. BURS and Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) have been raiding some high-profile people for tax related matters among them tax evasion. URB has been put under provisional Judicial Management through an order of the court by Justice Tshepo Motswagole of Gaborone High Court.
Justice Motswagole has ordered that while the order remains in force URB shall be under the direction and management of the Provisional Judicial Manager Evans Munalula, and that the said Provisional Judicial Manager shall himself be subject to the supervision of the Registrar and Master of the High Court. “As from today any other person or persons vested with the management of the Respondent’s affairs shall be divested thereof, and that the affairs of the Respondent shall forthwith be managed by Provisional Judicial Manager appointed in terms of this order. The Provisional Judicial Manager shall discharge the duties prescribed by Section 472 as read with Section 474 of the Companies Act.
“The Provisional Judicial Manager shall be empowered without the authority of the shareholders but subject to the authority of the creditors and the Master, to borrow money with or without security on behalf of the Respondent for the purpose of paying essential running expenditure in and about the business of the Respondent including salaries, wages, and utilities for the business required by the Respondent and to pledge the credit of the Respondent for any goods or services required,” said the Judge.
Justice Motswagole ordered that while URB is under Provisional Judicial Management all actions, proceedings, the execution of all writs, summons and other processes against the URB be stayed and be not proceeded with without leave of the court being obtained.
He ordered a rule nisi (temporary order) returnable on April 12th 2019 calling upon all interested persons to appear and show cause, if any, to the court why a final Judicial Management order should not be granted. Any party intending to oppose the relief sought in the proceedings is expected to file their notice of opposition in terms of the Rules of the High Court and file their answering affidavit.
According to BDC website the mandate of URB is to procure, refine and distribute vegetable oil in Botswana, with particular interest in the Botswana market and also the export market in countries in the SADC region. The company manufactures crude cooking oil through a refinery. The company imports the raw sunflower it uses for producing its cooking oil from South Africa.
In 2015 then Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry, Advocate Sadique Kebonang described progress made by URB towards realisation of an edible oil refinery and seed crushing plant construction as impressive. Advocate Kebonang who was touring URB plant in March that year said he was happy that the URB team made the project visualisation a reality by utilising available skills.
The close to P100 million project is estimated to refine between 2 500 -3 000 tonnes of edible oil per month. URB, a 100 percent citizen-owned company, manufactures cooking oil at its edible oil refinery plant situated at the Dumela Industrial Site in Francistown. The company was issued a licence to start operations in October 31st 2016.